Wildcats score on first five possessions, top Falcons

Las Vegas football coach James Thurman couldn’t have asked for a better start to his team’s 2013 season.

The Wildcats scored on their first five possessions in the season opener Saturday night, storming to a 35-0 lead and withstanding a rally by host Foothill to post a 61-32 win.

“All of those kids played last season,” Thurman said of his offense. “We played six to seven sophomores on offense last season on the varsity level, plus we have a handful of seniors who are good football players. If it’s a bad thing to have too much success early on, then that is what happened to us. We had our way with them for 12 minutes, but you gotta snap it in and play for 48 minutes – not 12.”

Las Vegas needed less than a minute to open the scoring on Trevor Swenson’s 15-yard pass to Aaron Zanin-Banks.

The Wildcats defense forced a fumble on the Falcons’ second offensive play, and three plays later Andrew Moreland scored the first of his four touchdowns on a 2-yard run.

With 7:49 remaining in the quarter, Swenson completed an 80-yard scoring pass to Elias Miller. Three minutes later, Miller scored on an 8-yard touchdown run. The first-quarter onslaught continued when Moreland scampered into the end zone on an 18-yard run.

Trailing 35-0, Foothill (0-2) lost senior quarterback Drew Doxtator to an apparent injury. But just when things seemed bleak, junior quarterback Nick Gardner took over.

With 2:39 still remaining in the first quarter, Gardner led the Falcons on an eight-play, 68-yard scoring drive, capped off with a 15-yard scoring strike to Aedan Bartolowitz. Gardner completed 5 of 7 passes for 65 yards on the drive.

Las Vegas still led 42-13 at the half before Foothill started to make things interesting.

Gardner connected with Vinny VanHorne on a 10-yard scoring strike to cut the deficit to 42-20. The Falcons had a chance to do more damage after three straight pass interference penalties on Las Vegas’ Kode Mwirigi. However, Mwirigi intercepted the next pass in the end zone. It was the fourth straight pass to come his way.

However, Foothill still refused to quit after the turnover. After forcing a Las Vegas punt, Gardner drove the Falcons 43 yards in four plays, including a 21-yard touchdown pass to Ian Ellis to cut the lead to 42-26.

After an interception, the Falcons used a nine-play drive, capped by a 5-yard scoring run by Gardner to make it 42-32 with 10:28 remaining in the game.

“Our kids relaxed and thought it was over,” Thurman said. “They thought Foothill would quit. They will be reminded about that next week at practice. Championship-caliber teams know how to put teams away. We are not quite there yet. However, the biggest room in the world is room for improvement, and that is a good reason to go to practice.”

Foothill, though, got no closer.

Miller scored on a 37-yard run to put the Wildcats up 48-32, and Moreland scored on runs of 12 and 20 yards to close out the scoring.